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Monday, 31 May 2010

Israel Murders at least 16 Members of Gaza Aid Flotilla

Unbelievable though it is, Israel's armed forces opened fire on unarmed crew members and protesters on board the Mavi Marmara and possibly other ships. 16 are reported dead with possibly 50 wounded.

The attack took place in international waters against ships whose only purpose was a humanitarian mission. It will be interesting to see how western leaders attempt to justify the latest murderous activities of their pampered watchdog. How they will explain this away as 'anti-terrorism'. Already the Israeli government has described the Gaza mission as a "provocation intended to delegitimise Israel". It is an indication of the sick mentality of Zionism's defenders that a mission to break a starvation blockade 'deligitimises Israel' but if that is what they feel, then it proves that Israel is indeed an illegitimate state.

We shall see how those who weep crocodile tears when it comes to the Iranian government's murder of protesters react to the murderous attack by Israel's navy on an unarmed convoy of ships.

And to those who questioned the Goldstone Report's conclusion, this is the proof that Israel's military are murderous bastards and war criminals.

Tony Greenstein


Israel attacks Gaza aid fleet


Al Jazeera's report on board the Mavi Marmara before communications were cut

Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country's siege on Gaza.

More than 10 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, the Israeli military said.

The Israeli Army Radio had earlier said that up to 16 people had been killed.

Footage from the flotilla's lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara, showed armed Israeli soldiers boarding the ship and helicopters flying overhead.

Al Jazeera's Jamal Elshayyal, on board the Mavi Marmara, said Israeli troops had used live ammunition during the operation.

The Israeli military said four soldiers had been wounded, two of them moderately, and claimed troops opened fire after "demonstrators onboard attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs".

Free Gaza Movement, the organisers of the flotilla, however, said the troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the ships.

They also said the ships were now being towed to the Israeli town of Haifa, instead of Ashdod to avoid waiting journalists.

Israeli intervention

Earlier, the Israeli navy had contacted the captain of the Mavi Marmara, asking him to identify himself and say where the ship was headed.

Shortly after, two Israeli naval vessels had flanked the flotilla on either side, but at a distance.

Organisers of the flotilla carrying 10,000 tonnes of humanitarian aid then diverted their ships and slowed down to avoid a confrontation during the night.

They also issued all passengers life jackets and asked them to remain below deck.

Al Jazeera’s Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Jerusalem, said the Israeli action was surprising.
"All the images being shown from the activists on board those ships show clearly that they were civilians and peaceful in nature, with medical supplies on board. So it will surprise many in the international community to learn what could have possibly led to this type of confrontation," he said.
Meanwhile, Israeli police have been put on a heightened state of alert across the country to prevent any civil disturbances.

Protests

Condemnation has been quick to pour in after the Israeli action.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, officially declared a three-day state of mourning over Monday's deaths.

Thousands of Turkish protesters tried to storm the Israeli consulate in Istanbul soon after the news of the operation broke. The protesters shouted "Damn Israel" as police blocked them.

Turkey is also reported to have summoned the Israeli ambassador to lodge a protest.

"(The interception on the convoy) is unacceptable ... Israel will have to endure the consequences of this behaviour," the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement.

Ismail Haniya, the Hamas leader in Gaza, has also dubbed the Israeli action as "barbaric".

Hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists, including a Nobel laureate and several European legislators, were with the flotilla, aiming to reach Gaza in defiance of an Israeli embargo.

But Israel had said it would not allow the flotilla to reach the Gaza Strip and vowed to stop the six ships from reaching the coastal Palestinian territory.

The flotilla had set sail from a port in Cyprus on Sunday and aimed to reach Gaza by Monday morning.

Israel said the boats were embarking on "an act of provocation" against the Israeli military, rather than providing aid, and that it had issued warrants to prohibit their entrance to Gaza.

It asserted that the flotilla would be breaking international law by landing in Gaza, a claim the organisers rejected.



Sunday, 30 May 2010

UCU Votes to Boycott Histadrut

The Universities College Union national conference voted today to ‘sever all relations’ with Israel’s Apartheid ‘Union’ Histadrut, as well as boycotting Ariel College, the settler institute in the West Bank.

Histadrut began its life in the 1920’s waging a campaign for Jewish Labour i.e. a Boycott of Arab Labur. For the first forty years of its life it refused to accept Arabs as members. When it did it corralled them into an Arab section – headed by a Jew!

When Histadrut was Israel’s second biggest employer, up till the early 1990's, it deliberately didn’t invest in Arab villages or areas. This has consequences today given that Arabs are much more likely to be unemployed.
Despite its formal commitment to equality it has never opposed sacking Arab workers to make way for Jewish workers, usually using the spurious excuse of ‘security’.

Last year Israel Rail tried to sack all its Arab workers on the grounds they hadn’t done national service in the army! Quite what army service has to do with working on the railways is unclear, but it is well known that Arabs (with the exception of the Druze primarily) don’t serve in the army of a Jewish State. Hence this was a device to sack Arabs in favour of Jews without explicitly being seen to do so.
Israel Rail backed off after a fierce international campaign but Histadrut , which represented the Jewish workers, pointedly refused to oppose the racist attempt to sack workers.

Likewise Histadrut local organisations and labour councils have been at the forefront of the demand to expel migrant labour in order to reduce Jewish unemployment. Although the Histadrut has given lip service to organising migrant labourers in practice it has refused to do so.
What it has done is effectively steal the contributions of Palestinian workers in Israel who it has steadfastly refused to represent in their conflicts with Jewish employers. For more on this see Histadrut Thieves Stole Over One Billion , Jonathan Cook’s article on Electronic Intifada and an article by the Alternative Information Centre in Israel.

It should be pointed out though that UCU isn’t the first British trade union to boycott Histadrut. Nalgo, the forerunner of Unison, the public sector trade union, was the first trade union to cut links with this settler union.

There is no doubt that but for the opposition of Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Bernard Regan, its trade union officer, it would have already adopted the same position again.
All this is of course very embarrassing for the Socialist Action/CL factions in British Palestine Solidarity Campaign, whose position is to oppose a Boycott of Histadrut. In the words of Regan, Histadrut is a ‘changed organisation’.

A vote on whether to Boycott Histadrut or not wasn’t allowed at the AGM in February after PSC Chair Hugh Lanning fixed the agenda.
Rumours that Trade Union Friends of Israel asked Bernard Regan to speak against the successful motion from Brighton University are, we understand, untrue. Since he is not a member of UCU it would not have been possible and guest speakers cannot speak on policy motions.
Congratulations to activists in UCU for this magnificent victory.
Tony Greenstein


Ramallah, Occupied Palestine, 30 May 2010

The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) expresses its profound appreciation for the courageous positions in support of Palestinian rights taken by the membership of the University and College Union (UCU) at its Congress today in Manchester. The UCU has again firmly and decisively established its unwavering commitment to the Palestinian civil society's campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with its obligations under international law and recognizes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people. Making history in the international trade union movement in the West, UCU’s Congress also voted with an overwhelming majority to "sever all relations with Histadrut, and to urge other trade unions and bodies to do likewise." The UCU has today confirmed its established position that it is legitimate to denounce Israel’s oppressive policies and to hold the state and its complicit institutions accountable for human rights abuses, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

The Histadrut’s long standing partnership in the Israeli state’s colonization, ethnic cleansing and racial discrimination against the Palestinian people, particularly its statement on January 13th, 2009 supporting Israel’s war crimes in the occupied and besieged Gaza strip, has been condemned by a number of trade unions, including the British Communications Workers Union (CWU) [1] and others in Belgium, Spain, France, Norway and around the world. The Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) has recently decided to review its relations with the Histadrut with a view to severing them.

PACBI applauds the UCU’s reaffirmation of its determination to implement BDS measures within the existing constraints. On a practical level, we appreciate the decision "to seek in conjunction with other trade unions, nationally and internationally, to establish an annual international conference on BDS, a trade union sponsored BDS website and a research centre on commercial, cultural and academic complicity with Israeli breaches of international law." These resolutions will have a far reaching impact on enhancing the global BDS movement, particularly in providing the needed resources for furthering the academic boycott of Israel. The Congress’s decision to campaign actively against the EU-Israel Association Agreement in coordination with other trade unions and solidarity movements is another milestone that responds to a central appeal of the Palestinian civil society BDS campaign. We also appreciate the UCU’s decision to work with other bodies in supporting the membership of the Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE) in Education International.

Through these decisions, the UCU joins other UK and international unions and public bodies in endorsing and implementing BDS. Most recently, the Scottish Trade Union Congress (STUC) reaffirmed in its annual meetings its BDS policy. Days earlier, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) had also reaffirmed its own overwhelming support for BDS. The British TUC has also launched with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) an important drive aimed at implementing a wide boycott of Israeli colonies’ products and services, as a first step towards a more comprehensive application of BDS, as called for in the TUC’s last congress.

Creative and effective realization of BDS policies has become a theme among trade unions and TU federations from South Africa’s COSATU to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers (CUPW). In 2009, Hampshire College in the US became the first in the West to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Many other universities in North America are witnessing similar divestment campaigns at various stages of development. Norway and Sweden have recently divested their respective pension funds of all stock in Elbit Systems, a leading Israeli military manufacturer implicated in violations of international law. Besides the UK, campaigns supporting PACBI’s Call for an academic and cultural boycott of Israel have sprung up in the US, Spain, France, Italy, India, Australia, Pakistan, South Africa, among other countries. Leading cultural figures of the calibre of Elvis Costello, Gil Scott-Heron and Carlos Santana have heeded the call to cancel performances in Israel in protest over its persistent suppression of Palestinian rights. Some of the largest supermarket chains in Italy have decided to stop carrying Israeli colonies’ products.

PACBI especially welcomes the UCU Congress resolution to "commence the investigatory process associated with the imposition of a boycott of Ariel College," a college-colony built on occupied Palestinian territory, as a first step in implementing the academic boycott against the Israeli academy. It is worth noting that the Spanish Government had excluded an Israeli academic team from Ariel College from a sustainable architecture competition last year for the same reasons. All Israeli universities are deeply linked to the military-security establishment, playing indispensable -- direct and indirect -- roles in perpetuating Israel's decades-old violations of international law and fundamental Palestinian rights. No Israeli university or academic union has ever taken a public position against the occupation, let alone against Israel's system of apartheid or the denial of Palestinian refugee rights. Israeli universities are profoundly complicit in developing weapons systems and military doctrines deployed in Israel's recent war crimes in Gaza [2]; justifying the ongoing colonization of Palestinian land and gradual ethnic cleansing of the indigenous Palestinians [3]; providing moral justification for extra-judicial killings and indiscriminate attacks against civilians [4]; systematically discriminating against "non-Jewish" students in admissions, dormitory room eligibility, financial aid, etc.; and many other implicit and explicit violations of human rights and international law. [5]

Finally, we salute the UCU membership for its effective and consistent solidarity in pushing BDS forward and for its politically and morally sound contribution to the struggle to end oppression and uphold universal human rights for all.

[1] [2] See, for example, the following incriminating evidence against Tel Aviv University's partnership with the Israeli army and weapons industries: [3] [4] Reuven Pedatzur, The Israeli Army House Philosopher, Haaretz, 24 February 2004. [5]

Friday, 28 May 2010

Israel's Attack on Goldstone's Apartheid Record Rebounds

Israel Offered Nuclear Weapons to South Africa's Apartheid Government under Vorster

There is a certain irony in the fact that, in their determination to demonise Richard Goldstein, the South African judge who produced a report cataloguing some of Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, Israel’s racist propagandists hold themselves out to be shocked by the fact that in his role as a white judge under Apartheid, Goldstone sentenced at least 2 Black South Africans to death and turned down the appeals of others.

The right-wing daily Yediot Aharanot in an article of 7th May 2010 ‘Richard Goldstone - Apartheid's 'Hanging Judge' makes it clear what its agenda is by stating in its opening paragraph that ‘
The Goldstone report has been widely condemned as totally biased against Israel.' Untrue. The Goldstone Report has been widely welcomed and it has been condemned only by Israel and the USA. Western governments who have voted against it or abstained have, without exception, failed to come up with any reason not to support it apart from a slavish adherence to US foreign policy.

It is because the Israeli government have been unable to criticise its content that they have sought to demonise Goldstone whilst at the same time refusing to hold an independent inquiry into their war crimes in Gaza.

No one is pretending that Goldstone is some latter-day saint nor that his role under Apartheid was anything to be proud of. Quite the contrary, he was part of the system of repression. The difference between him and his critics is that Goldstone saw the light and repented, playing an active part in bringing White South Africans to terms with the fact that Apartheid was coming to an end. If Goldstone was responsible for the death by hanging of 28 Black South Africans and other racist judgments that is to be deplored without reservation. But when the motive is the defence of the murder of 50 times that number of Palestinians then one gets the feeling that Zionism should be more concerned about the beam in its own eyes rather than the mote in others.

The fact is that Goldstone was a respected member, until recently, of the South African Jewish community. This community was distinguished by its vehement support of Israel and its equally fervent support of Apartheid. A deal had been done long ago with the Nationalists that in exchange for abandoning their anti-semitism South African Jews would renounce opponents of Apartheid in their midst. People like Joe Slovo were ostracised and they only discovered the black sheep of South Africa’s Jews when Apartheid was coming to an end. I hope to write a short piece coupled with some press cuttings on this subject on a later occasion.

Israel’s hypocritical critics are attacking Goldstone, not because of his role under Apartheid, but because of his Report criticising the Zionists’ massacres and blood-lust in Gaza last year.

To get some idea of the difference between Israel and South Africa one only has to note that the first massacre of non-violent protestors in South African that came to the attention of the public outside South Africa was the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 when some 70 Black South Africans demonstrating against the pass system were shot dead, most in the back. The Soweto massacre in 1976 under John Vorster killed an estimated 5-600 Africans.

By way of contrast, in Gaza, Over 1,400 people were killed in one month, including over 400 children. This is the real reason behind Israel’s transparently hypocritical attack on Goldstone, who certainly deserves criticism for his role under Apartheid. But the last people to criticise him should be members of this far-right Israeli government who are themselves dedicated to ruling over the land of the Palestinians whilst denying over 4 million, in Gaza and the West Bank, even a token vote. A ‘democratic’ Jewish society demands that Jews retain a majority, just as the Apartheid ‘democracy’ insisted on Whites doing likewise.

But of course these things come to haunt the accuser. Chris McGreal, who has a fine track record when it comes to uncovering the details of Israel’s collaboration with Apartheid has now written another article revealing how Israel, under its current President Shimon Peres (of Nobel Peace Prize fame!) offered the Apartheid regime nuclear warheads for its missiles. At a time when Iran is held to be a threat to peace, it is clear that the reason for US threats has nothing to do with threats to peace and everything to do with protecting US interests.

An excellent accompaniment to McGreal’s article is a comment piece by Gary Younge whose title says it all 'Israel's complicity in apartheid crimes undermines its attack on Goldstone'. His sub-title says it all:
'To rubbish the former judge's report on Gaza, Israel has dredged up his record in South Africa – while forgetting its own'. And another equally excellent article is that by Richard Silverstein.

Tony Greenstein

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons

Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons
Chris McGreal in Washington, The Guardian, Monday 24 May 2010,

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defence minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defence minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

A spokeswoman for Peres today said the report was baseless and there were "never any negotiations" between the two countries. She did not comment on the authenticity of the documents.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighbouring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellowcake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads". Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defence ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defence ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."

The Torture of Ameer Makhoul

I have already covered the arrest of Ameer Makhoul, Director of Ittijah, a group of Palestinian Israeli communities and chair of the Public Committee for the Defence of Political Freedom. This is part of the attack of the current far-right Zionist government on any protest by those they deem an enemy.

But as brutal as the Israeli regime is, it is also stupid. Violence and force is its only response. I always hesitate to make predictions but a regime whose first and only resort is to force, coupled by PR, is a regime with a limited shelf-life. And by regime, I don't only mean the current Lieberman/Netanyahu occupancy but the Israeli state, which has been ruled by the same regime under different guises.

When Israel's defenders react to what they perceive as the attack on Israel's legitimacy they are right. Israel's legitimacy is under attack and the only seeming defence mechanism left is to kidnap people in the middle of the night, torture them and obtain the consent of a compliant court.

It is good to see that Amnesty International has threatened to make him a prisoner of conscience. I also recommend Tikun Olam’s article on the arrest and its implications.

I have already written about the arrest of Ameer Makhoul and Omar Saeed, both heavily involved in defending the rights of Israel’s Arab citizens. The fact that they advocate non-violent resistance is an additional reason for their arrest as Israel far prefers to deal with those they can label ‘terrorists’.

The open use of torture on Makhoul and the naked complicity of the Petah Tikva Magistrates Court in preventing reporting of what has taken place is evidence, were any needed, of the role that Israel’s courts play in supporting the security state and in backing without question their actions.

Below is an excellent article on Electronic Intifada

Tony Greenstein


Ameer Makhoul's arrest is an assault on all Palestinians in Israel

Janan Abdu, Issam Makhoul, The Electronic Intifada, 26 May 2010

Today is the 21st day since the arrest of Ameer Makhoul at his home in Haifa, Israel, under the cover of darkness, by officers of the International Crimes Investigation Unit and General Security Service (GSS or Shabak). The arrest was conducted in a brutal and terrifying manner. Our house was raided, its contents ransacked and various pieces of equipment and objects of special value to us were confiscated. Violations of our fundamental rights to human dignity and privacy were committed, and physical, verbal and psychological violence were employed against us and in front of Ameer's two daughters. On this day we, Ameer's family, announce that we are extremely worried about what is happening to him and the conditions of his detention.

We know that Ameer has suffered and continues to suffer from acute pains in his head, his back and in both of his legs as a result of the severe torture he was subjected to, in breach of his most basic human rights. These include the rights to sleep, drink and eat, and the rights to dignity and not to be exposed to humiliating and degrading treatment. His complete isolation from the outside world, the control exercised over him by the GSS interrogators, and he has been interrogated for hours and days on end without sleep, while in shackles and bound by his hands and feet to a low chair in a way that does not allow him to move. This causes him severe pain, from which he still continues to suffer, resulting in his losing his sense of time and ability to think and concentrate, and in his mental disorientation. These methods are illegal under Israeli and international law.

For the past 21 days, the court has refused to allow Ameer's attorneys to read the medical report written by a doctor who visited him twice during the interrogation. It also refused to allow an independent doctor sent from Physicians for Human Rights - Israel (PHR-I) to examine him, as demanded by Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, including Adalah, PHR-I and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. These refusals raise concerns and questions about the information that the GSS, with the backing of the court, wants to conceal regarding the conditions of his detention and their methods of interrogation.

We wonder what the GSS is hiding and why it is stalling. Is it in order to hide signs of the physical and psychological violence it has inflicted upon him? Why has the court given its consent to these procedures?

What particularly worries us is that Ameer continues to complain of acute pains, and his eyesight has deteriorated, which has compelled him to ask for a stronger pair of glasses. This raises the questions: How and why this severely diminished eyesight was caused during his detention? What methods of interrogation were used which led to this physical deterioration and caused him to experience and complain of acute pains?

Yet there are bigger questions, with implications not just for Ameer but for all Palestinians in Israel: what is the Israeli security establishment trying to cover up?

Why is the court colluding with the GSS and concealing the conditions of detention and methods of interrogation and torture that have been used against Ameer?

Why did the court block the publication of the details of Ameer's affidavit as it relates to the illegal methods of interrogation used against him? Ameer discussed these interrogation methods in his initial meeting with his lawyers, which was held after almost two weeks of being banned from access to legal counsel.

We appeal to the local and international communities and to individuals to continue to act quickly to put pressure on the Israeli government and legal system to open an independent investigation into the methods used by the GSS interrogators against Ameer, and to demand the indictment of those responsible for the use of torture against him. We also call on the local and international communities to consider any indictment by the GSS to have been fabricated and extorted under torture and gained solely by obstructing democratic freedoms and human rights. These acts are invalid and illegitimate, and in flagrant violation of international law.

We call on the local and international communities to demand that the Israeli authorities immediately halt this trial, which is based on an investigation in which Ameer was prevented from defending himself in any genuine manner. Ameer has been denied the most fundamental basic human rights to which he is entitled under Israeli and international law. In addition, the independence of the judiciary and democratic freedoms were dangerously subjected to the dictates of the GSS in this case.

We greatly appreciate the community, institutional and individual solidarity with Ameer on the local and international levels, and all efforts to defend his freedom. We are aware of the importance of the role played by all political movements and political parties in challenging the circumstances of Ameer's arrest, and this attack against the Arab public and its leadership, and on democratic freedom and human rights. We are also aware that the clear strategic choice of the Arab public in Israel has been and continues to be that of unyielding and legitimate political struggle.

The fact is that Ameer Makhoul does not belong to any specific political party. Rather, he reserves for himself an independent position, which is a clear indication that the main target of this attack is the Arab Palestinian public and their leadership, their rights and freedoms. Defending the freedom of Ameer and his rights as a detainee, and rejecting incitement against Arab citizens in light of his detention, are not an individual or class issue, but a national, democratic mission.

The real indictment is against the GSS and the Israeli establishment, which are trampling on democratic freedoms and human rights and resorting to illegal methods of interrogation and torture.

Janan Abdu is the partner of Ameer Makhoul. Issam Makhoul is brother of Ameer Makhoul.

Harrowing Update from Family of Ameer Makhoul

Ameer Makhoul, Director of Ittijah, a coalition of Palestinian Israeli Community Organizations, was arrested three weeks ago from his home in Haifa. Makhoul was unable to see his lawyer for the first weeks of his arrest and now his lawyers and his family, having seen him, assert that he has been tortured.

Makhoul has not yet been charged with any crime, but the Israeli government is clearly paving the way for his indictment soon, and in the process using extreme, though vague, language about “security” concerns designed to repress any public questions about Makhoul's treatment.

Seen as part of a long line, in the past year, of arrest and persecution that includes Ezra Nawi (who went to jail on Sunday for protecting a Palestininan home from destruction), the campaign against the NIF and human rights organizations in Israel, the arrests of Jamal Jum'a and Mohammed Othman, and the ongoing arrests and raids and arrests in villages like Bil'in and Ni'alin, it is clear that Israel's strategy in the face of its human rights violations and crackdown on dissent, is to attack, persecute, and attempt to destroy those who speak out.

What follows, in its entirety, is a press statement from the family of Ameer Makhoul on his arrest and treatment, titled, “We Accuse.”

Today is the 21st day since the arrest of Ameer Makhoul at his home in Haifa, Israel, under the cover of darkness, by the International Crimes Investigation Unit and General Security Service (GSS or Shabak) officers. The arrest was conducted in a brutal and terrifying manner. Our house was raided, its contents ransacked, and various pieces of equipment and objects of special value to us were confiscated. Violations of our fundamental rights to human dignity and privacy were committed, and physical, verbal and psychological violence were employed against us and in front of our two daughters. On this day we, Ameer’s family, announce that we are extremely worried about what is happening to him and about the conditions of his detention.

We know that Ameer has suffered and continues to suffer from acute pains in his head, his back and in both of his legs as a result of the severe torture he was subjected to, in breach of his most basic human rights. These include the rights to sleep, drink and eat, and the rights to dignity and not to be exposed to humiliating and degrading treatment. His complete isolation from the outside world, the control exercised over him by the GSS interrogators, and his interrogation for hours and days on end without sleep, while in shackles and bound by his hands and feet to a low chair in a way that did not allow him to move, causing him severe pain, from which he still continues to suffer now, all resulted in his losing his sense of time and ability to think and concentrate, and in his mental disorientation. These methods are illegal under Israeli and international law.

Until today, 26 May, the court refused to allow Ameer’s attorneys to read the medical report written by a doctor who visited him twice during the interrogation. It also refused to allow an independent doctor sent from Physicians for Human Rights – Israel to examine him, as demanded by Adalah, Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. These refusals raise concerns and questions about the information that the GSS, with the backing of the court, wants to conceal regarding his conditions of detention and their methods of interrogation. What, we wonder, is the GSS hiding and why is it stalling? Is it in order to hide signs of the physical and psychological violence it has inflicted on him? And why has the court given its consent to these procedures?

What particularly worries us is that Ameer continues to complain of acute pains, and his eyesight has deteriorated, which has compelled him to ask for a stronger pair of glasses. The question is how and why this severely diminished eyesight was caused during his detention, and what the methods of interrogation were that led to this deterioration and to the pains he is complaining of.

The bigger questions are: What is the Israeli security establishment trying to cover up? Why is the court colluding with the GSS and concealing the conditions of detention and methods of interrogation/torture that have been used against Ameer?

Why did the court block the publication of the details of Ameer’s affidavit as it relates to the illegal methods of interrogation used against him, and which he spoke of before his lawyers in his initial meeting with them, held after around two weeks of being banned from access to legal counsel?

We appeal to the local and international communities and to individuals to continue to act quickly to put pressure on the Israeli government and legal system to open an independent investigation into the methods used by the GSS interrogators against Ameer, and to demand the indictment of those responsible for the use of torture against him. We also call on the local and international communities to consider any indictment by the GSS to have been fabricated and extorted under torture and gained solely by obstructing democratic freedoms and human rights. These acts are invalid and illegitimate, and in flagrant violation of international law.

We call for demands on the Israeli authorities to immediately call off this trial, which is based on an investigation in which Ameer was prevented from defending himself in any genuine manner. Ameer was denied the basic human rights to which he is entitled under Israeli and international law. The independence of the judiciary and democratic freedoms were dangerously subjected to the dictates of the GSS in this case.

We greatly appreciate the community, institutional and individual solidarity with Ameer, local and international, and all efforts to defend his freedom. We are aware of the importance of the role played by all political movements and political parties in challenging the circumstances of Ameer’s arrest, and this attack against the Arab public and its leadership, and on democratic freedom and human rights. We are also aware that the clear strategic choice of the Arab public in Israel has been and continues to be the that of unyielding and legitimate political struggle.

The fact is that Ameer Makhoul does not belong to any specific political party. Rather, he reserves for himself an independent position, which is a clear indication that the main target of this attack is the Arab Palestinian public and their leadership, their rights and freedoms. Defending the freedom of Ameer and his rights as a detainee, and rejecting incitement against Arab citizens in light of his detention, are not an individual or class issue, but a national, democratic mission.

The real indictment is against the GSS and the Israeli establishment, which are trampling on democratic freedoms and human rights and resorting to illegal methods of interrogation and torture.
Janan Abdu, Partner of Ameer Makhoul (+972-54-756-2171)

Monday, 24 May 2010

Islamic Fascists Attack Children’s Summer Camp in Gaza

Is 'Refugee Rights' a Hamas Flag of Convenience?

There are those who say that in the face of the Zionist siege and Israeli attacks on Gaza, we should not comment on or even publicise internal divisions amongst Palestinians. What this effectively amounts to is silence over the oppression of Palestinians by Palestinians in the cause of the greater goal of liberation from Zionism.

What it also guarantees is that the yoke of oppression will never be lifted from the vast majority of Palestinians.
This has been the same story the world over with decolonisation. People, especially the Communist Party, kept quiet about Saddam’s repression of trade unionits, Khomeini’s murder of thousands of leftists, Mugabe’s slaughter of 20 Ndebele, until of course ‘liberation’ turns out to be as bad as the original oppression the liberation movement fought against.

So we should take note of the report below from the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights about how some 30 armed gunment deliberately set fire to and attacked a summer games camp for Palestinian children. Presumably the children of Gaza haven’t suffered enough and they need the austere barbarians of Islamic Fundamentalism to keep any moments of joy from them. So we should say it quite clearly.


Whoever did this is merely perpetuating the work of the Israeli army and the Zionists. Where Israel left off, the barbarian Islamic Fundamentalists took over.


And it doesn’t take a genius to work out that Hamas, which has itself been repeatedly criticised for its attempts to follow a similar agenda, is probably implicated in what happened.


In its statement it manages to condemn the attack but reserves most of its criticism for UNWRA for exaggerating what happened. There is no hint that Hamas intends to take action against the group, yet 30 armed gunmen outside roaming around engaging in an attack on the civilian population, doesn’t seem to disturb it unduly. It would appear that Hamas is not unsympathetic to the aims of the group. Of course they could always prove us wrong by bringing to justice these Islamic fascists.


Tony Greenstein


PCHR Strongly Condemns Attack on UNRWA Summer Games Camp
Date: 23 May 2010

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the attack carried out by a large number of masked gunmen on a summer games camp organized by UNRWA at a beach in the west of Gaza City. The attackers set fire to parts of the camp and damaged its contents in the early morning. PCHR calls upon the government in the Gaza Strip to seriously investigate
the attack, which constitutes part of the state of security chaos and misuse of weapons plaguing the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), and bring the perpetrators to justice.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR and the testimony of the camp guard, Ibrahim Kamel 'Eleiwa, at approximately 2:30 on Sunday, 23 May 2010, a large number of masked gunmen broke into the UNRWA camp designated for the summer games at the beach in the Sheikh 'Ejleen area in the west of Gaza City. They attacked the guard with gun butts, handcuffed him and took his mobile phone. They then began damaging the contents of the camp, tearing down the canvas walls and setting fire to the equipment used by children. Before they left, one of gunmen put a letter and three bullets in the pocket of the handcuffed guard. The letter included a threat against three UNRWA officials, including John Ging, Director UNRWA Operations in Gaza. At approximately 5:00, the supervisor of the camp arrived with an interrogator, who inspected the area and took the guard to the police station for questioning.

It should be noted that UNRWA began holding summer games, which target children aged 7-15 in the summer of 2008. The camps have been held at UNRWA schools and at camps on the beach and included sport and art activities. The camp that was targeted this morning consists of nine sites, each of which stands on a 2-donum[1] area of land, forming a total area of 18 donums. Each site offers services to a total of 500 children during two separate morning and afternoon periods. The camp serves 4,500 children every two weeks. It was decided that four camps were going to be held this summer in order to serve 18,000 children in addition to providing job opportunities for 540 persons. The first camp was scheduled to commence on 12 June 2010.

Last Wednesday, an unknown group named "Homeland Freemen" issued a press release strongly criticizing UNRWA and its administration, particularly with regard to the summer camps, which were described as aiming at teaching girls "swimming, fitness and dancing." In the press release, the group threatened that "the dignified and honored Gaza will resist such corruption and stop it." The group further criticized the government in the Gaza Strip,
asking: "You, government of Gaza, what is your attitude towards these criminal acts?"

PCHR strongly condemns this attack, which constitutes part of the state of security chaos and misuse of weapons plaguing the (OPT), and:

1. Calls upon the government in the Gaza Strip to open prompt and effective investigations into the attack, prosecute the perpetrators, take the necessary legal action, and publish the results of the investigation;

2. Calls upon the government to take a clear position condemning the attack and expressing willingness to take necessary measures to ensure complete protection of UNRWA institutions and facilities, including the summer camps;

3. Emphasizes the important role played by UNRWA in supporting the Palestinian people through its different programs organized to serve Palestinian refugees, particularly in the Gaza Strip, where civilians face additional hardship due to the ongoing siege and Israeli practices;

4. Confirms its full support of UNRWA programs, including summer camps, which constitute a necessity for children at the educational, mental health, and social levels, especially due to the difficult experiences they have been exposed to, particularly the unprecedented violence practiced against them during the latest Israeli offensive;

5. Strongly condemns all attempts aiming at attacking and undermining these services; and

6. Emphasizes the importance of the rule of law and completely rejects the notion that any party can claim to be the guardian of morals and values of this people, and carries out whatever attacks it deems appropriate, as such actions constitute the epitome of security chaos and misuse of weapons.

UNRWA site vandalized by gunmen in Gaza

Bethlehem - Ma'an - A group of 30 armed and masked men attacked and set fire to an UNRWA recreation facility on Gaza City's beach front on Sunday, the UN body said in a statement.

The location is one of 35 beach facilities under construction, which will form part of UNRWA’s annual Summer Games program for over 250,000 refugee children in Gaza, due to commence on 12 June, the statement read.

UNRWA’s Director of Operations in Gaza, John Ging, condemned the incident, calling it "vandalism linked to extremism and an attack on the happiness of children." He went on to reassure parents and the children of Gaza that “UNRWA will not be intimidated by such acts and will quickly rebuild the location in good time to host the Summer Games”

UNRWA's summer games, conducted for the fourth year with the full support and involvement of the community is the largest recreation program for Gaza’s children providing a diversified set of activities including sports, swimming, arts and crafts, theater and drama. "It is of immense physical and psychological importance for children who would otherwise have no other similar recreation opportunity," the statement read.

The security guard at the construction site said the masked gunmen handcuffed him before they threw him out and began torching tents and destroying billboards and water tanks. Then they gave him a letter demanding that he passes to police detectives.

The letter, according to the guard, threatens to harm Ging and two other UNRWA employees. “They painted three bullets, indicating that all three people will be shot,” he said.

In a separate statement, an apparent far-right group calling itself Refugee Rights said the Summer Games 2010 cost 20 million US dollars and would teach Palestinian school girls to swim, dance, and other "impudent practices."

The group further alleged that international employees in Ging's office receive salaries up to 20,000 US dollars per month "which is equal salaries of 30 local Palestinian teachers at UNRWA schools.” They described that as waste of money which belongs to the Palestinian people.
“We appreciate UNRWA services as evidence that the international community has responsibility towards the Palestinian people who are still denied return to their homeland. However, we announce refusal of some policies and decisions taken recently by the administration of the UNRWA in the Gaza Strip. Of most importance was the intermingling of boys and girls at school under the pretext that girls have better capabilities,” the statement added.

The group further said it denounced UNRWA's scheme allowing Palestinian students to visit foreign countries "because this is normalization with Israel since those students meet with Israeli or Jewish students abroad."

The Hamas government condemned the attack on the UNRWA site, vowing to pursue the perpetrators.

De facto government spokesman Tahir An-Nunu told reporters that the government was disappointed with the statement issued by Refugee Rights threatening to harm UNRWA officials, applauding Gings efforts to end the siege on Gaza and UNRWA's decades of support for the Palestinian people.

However, the Gaza-based Interior Ministry described UNRWA's statement as an "exaggeration" of the damage caused in the incident, asking the UN body to "check well before releasing overstated comments."

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Interview with Ahmed Tibi - Arab member of Israeli Knesset

Why Israel cannot be a Democratic and a Jewish State - Ahmad Tibi

The achilles heel of supporters of Two States, as well as Zionists, is the question of the Arabs in Israel.

Two States supporters usually prefer, like Britain’s Palestine Solidarity Campaign to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the problem. For the Zionists, as the recent Reut Report makes clear, this is also a problem, but one of presentation and 'legitimacy'.

Because despite the loud proclamations of the Zionist propagandists that Arabs are equal, the fact is they are not – from land allocation to education to budgetary allocations.


Perhaps two statistics stand out. According to the
Association for the Advancement of Civic Equality in Israel the infant mortality rate in the Arab sector is 8.4 babies per 1,000 births, the rate among the Jewish population is 3.6 babies per 1,000 births.

Likewise the report from the Israel charity Sikkuy shows that 65.7 percent of Arab children live below the poverty line, as opposed to 31.4 percent of Jewish children. This is the real meaning of Israel’s fabled ‘equality’ for its Arab citizens.

Tony Greenstein


On being an Arab lawmaker in Israel
Ahmad Tibi, a member of Israel's parliament, talks about why he thinks democracy in Israel applies only to Jewish citizens, why he'll never accept Israel as a Jewish state and why he'll never leave.

Edmund Sanders, Los Angeles Times
May 23, 2010
As one of Israel's few Arab lawmakers, Ahmad Tibi knows how to fight to be heard, even when colleagues don't want to listen. That determination was never clearer than last month when Tibi, a top political advisor to PLO chairman Yasser Arafat before being elected to the Knesset in 1999, refused to yield the floor during a particularly acrimonious debate. Escorts were summoned to pry his white-knuckled hands off the lectern and lead the 51-year-old away. Tibi, a former gynecologist, hasn't lost his sense of humor. On his office walls is a newspaper cartoon of him bound and gagged on the Knesset floor. On a top shelf is a row of fat binders, including one titled "Dead Ends." He spoke with the Los Angeles Times about why he thinks democracy in Israel applies only to Jewish citizens, why he'll never accept Israel as a Jewish state and why he'll never leave.

You've been saying recently that racism in Israel has gone mainstream, moving from the fringes of society into the halls of government, even accusing Israel's foreign minister and interior minister of being racists. Those are pretty sweeping statements.

Look at what [Israeli Foreign Minister] Avigdor Lieberman and his party are saying and doing. Their motions and proposed laws are pure racism. The so-called loyalty motion demands that we be loyal to Zionism and to Israel as a Jewish state or we won't be allowed to be a candidate for the Knesset or receive our budget allocation from the state. They say Arabs should be transported to the Palestinian Authority....

This is a fascist campaign. Lieberman is the equivalent of Jean-Marie Le Pen from France and [the late] Joerg Heider from Austria. But there is one difference. They are all are racists. All conduct a policy of hatred. But Heider was an indigenous politician who was racist against foreigners. Here we are talking about an immigrant politician [Lieberman was born in Moldova] who is racist against the indigenous [Palestinian] people....

In what way don't Jewish and Arab citizens have equal rights?

There is discrimination in every field of life except one. There is one man, one vote. In elections, all are equal. But in budget allocation, industry, education, land, religious places, employment there are huge gaps between the Jewish majority and the Arab minority. Just visit a couple of towns. You'll see Jewish cities are very civilized. Arab towns are being strangulated. There has not been one new Arab town in Israel since 1948, but there have been hundreds of [Jewish] settlements.

The state land authority [in many cases has been] allowed to hire or purchase land only for Jews. Non-Jews are not allowed. And we are talking about land that was ours in the past and confiscated. In the early 1950s, we owned 80% of the private land. Now we own 3% of the private land.

We are 20% of the population, but only 6% of the employees in the public sector. This is a built-in discriminatory policy. There is not one Arab official employed in a high-ranking [departmental] post, no legal advisor, no director-general.

If elections are fair and you have one-fifth of the population, isn't it partly your own fault that Arabs haven't been able to gain more political clout? You only have about 10% of the Knesset seats. Arab political parties are small and divided. Other, much smaller minority groups in Israel have done a much better job at organizing and exerting influence.

We [Palestinians] are not the same. There are differences in parties and ideologies. There is an idea to bring all parties together on one list. I support that idea. But we didn't succeed. It's our fault.

Secondly, half of our voters don't participate in the [national] election. There are a lot of reasons, but mainly frustration with the system. We should do more to improve and increase the percent of Arabs taking part....

What have you been able to deliver for Arab constituents in terms of tangible benefits or protections? As an Arab MK, can you even get a bill passed?

During the last Knesset, I passed four [laws]. Before that, I passed another four or five. But it's very difficult for an Arab MK to pass even one motion. Mine were all universal laws that were good for both Jews and Arabs, about medical issues, environment, anti-corruption. But if I brought a law on the issue of land allocation or cessation of discrimination, it would immediately be brought down.

I tried it three months ago with a motion that said simply the allocation of land by the state should be equal for all citizens. I didn't mention "Jewish" or "Arab" citizens. Automatically the vast majority of the Knesset voted against me. Any motion with the principle or word "equality" will fail. There is not one basic law in the Knesset talking about the value of equal rights. Every Knesset I try to pass it.

As an opposition figure, do you see part of your role to provoke, to criticize, to prod?

To enlighten. To concentrate focus on issues. I'm not that easy to ignore. If [my critics] ever succeed in ignoring me, that's the day I will no longer stay in the Knesset.

A recent poll found half of Israeli kids don't think Arabs should serve in the Knesset. What does that say to you?

There is a continuous delegitimization campaign against us. We are described as betrayers. But I can't betray something I'm not part of. I'm not part of the army. I'm not part of the Zionist ideology. I'm a victim of Zionism.... It's inhumane to demand that we be loyal to Zionism or accept Israel as a Jewish state. I can't accept a definition that strengthens the discrimination against non-Jews in Israel.

You don't accept Israel as a Jewish state?

I want it to be a state of its own nationalities, and the Arab minority to be recognized as a national minority. Israel is, according to the law, defined as a Jewish and democratic state. But there is a contradiction between the two values. If you are democratic, you should believe in equality. But if you define the nation by a Jewish ethnicity, you are saying any Jewish person is superior to a non-Jewish person.

How you do define yourself?

I'm a Palestinian-Arab citizen of Israel. We are part of the Palestinian people but citizens of Israel.

You gave an impassioned speech in January, acknowledging the Jewish suffering in the Holocaust. It was praised by some as one of the best ever delivered in the Knesset. Were you surprised by the reaction? Did it have any lasting impact on relations?

There was overwhelming positive reaction, most importantly, from Jews and Arabs alike. I said, we as Arabs are listening to your historical suffering and pain. I have empathy. You were victims. Now we [Palestinians] are victims of the victims. I wanted them to try to understand our agony and suffering. Those who have suffered so much in the past should be the first to listen to the pain of a Palestinian woman in Gaza. Yet they are not.

Why not?

They are encapsulated by their pain and history. Even when Israelis send a tank to [the West Bank city of] Nablus, they promote the idea that it's Palestinian aggression. So even when we are the victims, they market themselves as the victim. They occupy this square of victimhood everywhere.

Arab MKs would seem to be a natural bridge in Israeli-Palestinians peace talks. But you're rarely at the forefront of that. Why not?

[Israel] doesn't want this bridge. They view us as a fifth column. The Arab minority is being dealt with as an enemy. They treat us like guests in our own country.

If an independent Palestinian state is formed, where would you choose to live?

I'm a native of Tayibe, and that's part of the state of Israel. I take my citizenship seriously. I want to improve my citizenship in order to be equal. I don't want to be removed or treated like a chess piece. I don't want anyone deported from Israel. But if someone has to leave, it should the ones who arrived last.

edmund.sanders@latimes.com

Report: Arabs' life expectancy in Israel 4 years shorter than Jews'

Annual Sikui organization analysis shows gaps between Jewish, Arab populations in Israel; says Jewish population has higher standard of living than Arab population, despite government's declarations of equality between all citizens

Sharon Roffe-Ofir
Published: 07.09.08, 14:44

The lifespan of Israeli Jews is four years longer than that of Arabs, a new report revealed Wednesday. The report was composed by the SIKUI organization which monitors the situation of Arabs within Israel vis a vis their civil and human rights.


The report, which presents the past year’s data, displayed a somber picture, indicating that not only has no improvement been made, but some of the gaps between the two populations have grown.

For instance, the gaps in infant mortality rates are significant showing that in 2007, 8 Arab babies died for every 1,000 births and amongst the Jews, 4 babies died for every 1,000 born.

The report also showed that 65.7% of Arab children live under the poverty line while 31.4% of Jewish children do. Moreover, “The country’s welfare investment in Jewish citizens is NIS 508 ($160) on average as opposed to 348 shekel ($110) on Arabs,” the report said.

One gap that became smaller was in the realm of education. The gap in those eligible to take the matriculation exam reduced and also that in the percentage of dropouts.

However, a large gap still exists between the two populations in graduation percentages. Eight percent of Arab students do not graduate while only four percent of the Jewish population never completes high school studies.

The only variable showing an advantage for the Arab population as compared to the Jewish one is home ownership. While 93% of Arabs own a home, only 70.5% of Jews own their residence. Nonetheless, the amount of Jewish people per room in Israeli houses is 0.85% while Arabs per room stands at 1.42%

A Sikui worker strengthened the organization’s views on the inequality they believe exists in the country. “In the year 2008, the Jewish population in Israel has a higher standard of living than that of the Arab population, despite the fact that the Israeli governments declared that they are committed to equality between Jewish and Arab citizens alike. “

On Thursday, the Israel Government Action in the Arab Sector committee is going to meet to discuss various issues. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to speak at the end of the meeting.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

I May be Gay But That Doesn’t Stop Me Supporting Racists - Elton John


Let us not beat about the bush. Elton John played in South Africa’s Sun City despite the Boycott of Apartheid South Africa. Elton John has made it clear that he is equally determined to play in the Apartheid State of Israel. Why? Because all his ‘gay politics’ are self-centred.


His is a lifestyle form of politics. In effect he asserts the right to be equal oppressors with heterosexuals, just like the Blair Babes only objective was to have the equal right to be racists and oppressors.


With Gil Scott-Heron and now Elvis Costello showing the way, Elton John has obviously decided that his £¼ million flower addiction needs bolstering with the dirty money of racism.


Below is an excellent letter from BRICUP, British Universities for Palestine. Signed by four professors, all of them Jewish, it demonstrates a controlled anger at Elton John’s attempt to pretend that he is above such matters as whether or not a Palestinian child goes thirsty in the West Bank because the settlers have all the water and his parents cannot afford any.


Tony Greenstein



19 May, 2010

Open Letter to the Racist ‘Sir’ Elton

Dear Elton John:

It’s funny how people can be close friends, and yet react so differently to things. You’re apparently close friends with Elvis Costello – so close you hosted his wedding to Diana Krall at your ‘castle’ in Windsor. After just three weeks of people appealing to Elvis Costello not to perform in Israel, he’s decided not to go. (His thoughtful statement is here).


But months down the line from our first letter to you, with hundreds, if not thousands, of your fans appealing to you to cancel your gig in Tel Aviv (including Canadian film-maker John Greyson) you remain silent. Of course you have every right to do so. But we’re wondering what this silence means.


Does it mean you think the dirty business of Israeli colonialism and ethnic cleansing has nothing to do with you? That you can play for the officers and conscripts and secret service people who will make up much of your audience in Tel Aviv without giving them the stamp of your approval? You will offer them a few hours’ respite from administering beatings and torture and land-theft and house demolition and sieges and destroying wells and denying sick people access to hospital – and the simple fact of your presence will tell them that all this cruel business, which they conduct daily, is okay with you.


Or does your silence mean you think it’s more important to stand in solidarity with gays in Israel than with the Palestinians? But what about Palestinian gays? Israel has a record of sending those

who’ve sought refuge in Israel back to the Occupied Territories. So much for Israel being ‘gay-friendly’.


Palestinian gay rights activist Haneen Maikey (an Israeli citizen) says, ‘It’s really pathetic that the Israeli state has nothing besides gay rights to promote its liberal image. Ridiculous, and in a sense hilarious, because there are no gay rights in Israel’.


To the Israeli state she says, ‘Stop speaking in my name. If you want to do me a favour, stop bombing my friends, end your occupation, and leave me to rebuild my community’.


Sir Elton! – maybe you’ve decided, in your generous way, that you’ll donate the proceeds of your Tel Aviv concert to the Global Fund, or another AIDS charity (and of course good deeds cannot

be spoken about, so you don’t announce it). But our appeal to you isn’t about money. It’s about the meaning of actions. Elvis Costello understood exactly that ‘simply having your name added

to a concert schedule may be interpreted as a political act…and it may be assumed that one has no mind for the suffering of the innocent’.


To his great credit, he decided that ‘a silence in music is sometimes better than adding to the static’. We are asking to you to abandon the silence of your apparent indifference to our appeal, and that of thousands of your fans, and join Elvis Costello in his musical silence. Please don’t play in Israel.


Yours sincerely,


Professor Haim Bresheeth

Mike Cushman

Professor Steven Rose

Professor Jonathan Rosenhead

see Electronic Intifada Elton John: Don't stand on the wrong side of history again and

YNet Elton John's Israel concert booked